When my wife and I started dating 20 years ago, she’d often invite me over for Sunday brunch — a ritual that included midmorning pancakes, a shared newspaper and, almost invariably, strains of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” humming from her stereo. Because my thoughts of that time are caught up in my memories of being in love, I think of those Sundays as uniformly sunny, with strong shafts of light streaming through the apartment windows and warming the headlines, so that even the grimmest weekend news seemed, somehow, not so bad.
Two decades later, the words “Vivaldi Sunday” remain within my private lexicon as a way to describe a sabbath day of clear sun and flawless sky. Vivaldi Sundays tend to arrive in early spring or early autumn, but if one is lucky, a Vivaldi Sunday can occasionally brighten a winter weekend, too.
I knew that a Vivaldi Sunday had landed on our doorstep last weekend when I opened my eyes and saw that the bedroom drapes, still drawn for the night, were illuminated from behind, like a paper lantern brightened by candle light. Morning sun had returned after two weeks of rain, and I was glad to open the curtains and welcome the warmth — in the same way, I suppose, that oppressed villagers cheer a long-awaited army of liberation.
I like rain, but south Louisiana’s extended occupation by storm clouds this month had me crossing my fingers and hoping for a respite from leaky umbrellas, soggy shoes, and long, gray afternoons that seemed like a purgatory of precipipation.
Walking down the driveway to fetch the Sunday paper, I noticed that the sun was slowly drying the yard back to health. Softened by days of showers, the lawn had begun to register even the slightest impressions on its surface, so that the footprints I’d made while filling the birdfeeders days earlier still lingered like dark bruises along the width of the yard. But the puddles were receding, and the ground already seemed less spongy.
I felt happy that good weather had returned just in time for local marathon runners using our street as part of their course. In my neighbor’s yard, someone had planted a handmade sign to encourage a favored runner with a simple compliment. In pink ink adorned with glitter, the lucky athlete would read, “Looking good, Laurie.”
A few doors down, I could see that other neighbors had gathered in lawn chairs at the base of their driveway — an impromptu cheering section offering shouts of praise to marathoners who, in most cases, were probably strangers to them.
Still in my bathrobe as I collected the Sunday paper from my curb, I also raised a thumb of approval for the runners passing by.
The newspaper brought news of inaugurations in Washington and the Martin Luther King holiday, two national observances meant to affirm what’s good in us. But what made me most hopeful was the sight of folks along my street wishing the best for people they didn’t know.
A perfect start,I told myself, to a glorious Vivaldi Sunday.